The Chicago culinary community lost another legend, as Jean Banchet passed away from pancreatic cancer. Even before Charlie Trotter (who also recently passed away), Banchet is credited with putting Chicago squarely on the world's culinary stage. He opened Le Francais in Wheeling in 1973, which was later named "America's Best Restaurant in 1980 by Bon Appetit.
Banchet touched nearly every other chef and restaurant in Chicago that came after it in some way. The Jean Banchet awards for culinary excellence, Chicago's local version of the James Beard Awards, are named after Banchet for a reason.
The Tribune quotes Banchet's wife, Doris, saying that Jean was only diagnosed three weeks ago. The Chicago dining scene was forever changed by his presence; expect this year's awards to be special.
· Le Francais chef set high standard for fine dining in Chicago [Tribune]
· All Jean Banchet Awards Coverage [-ECHI-]
Curtis Duffy and Jean Banchet at the 2010 Jean Banchet Awards [Photo: Grand Chefs Gala]